Industrial Tourism in Japan
All Fired Up:Craftsmanship and technology meet at NoritakeGardens
At NoritakeGardens, visitors can appreciate the more than 100-year history of world renowned Japanese china maker Noritake. Lovers of ceramics can see porcelain and fine bone china created by master craftspeople, plus explore the myriad uses for ceramics and accompanying technology in other aspects of life.
Noritake has come a long way since the Morimura brothers opened an imported goods store in New York City in 1876. As the sales of porcelainware gradually increased, the Morimura company saw the potential of china. In 1889, leaders of the company visited the World Exposition in Paris and were impressed by the exquisitely decorated European porcelain. Desiring to make such beautiful pieces in Japan, the brothers were determined to try their hand at making their own china. Thus, they founded Nippon Toki (Japan Ceramics) in 1904, with the first factory in the village of Noritake, now part of Nagoya.
The charming old factory grounds are located in central Nagoya, quite close to NagoyaCastle and only a few stops away from Atsuta jingu, one of Japan's oldest and most sacred shrines. The old buildings now house the museum, where visitors can see historical Noritake pieces, from tableware to figurines. Follow the styles of each era from the late 1800s to present through the delicate designs of this iconic pottery. Visitors also have a chance to see their first dinner set completed in 1914 and Noritake's progression since then.
In the CraftCenter, artisans demonstrate each step of the production process in intricate detail, from shaping to painting to glazing and firing. Visitors can get an up-close view of Noritake's craftsmanship. After watching the process, the visitor can try their hand at painting their own pieces, which can be fired and shipped at completion.
NoritakeGardens boasts an extensive shopping experience, from outlet pieces to high-end articles and restaurants where guests can take refreshment served on beautiful Noritake tableware. A stroll through the grounds reveals an old kiln with its chimneys still standing and the red brick building that was part of the original factory. The building called Morimura Okura Museum (Canvas) now holds a child-friendly interactive exhibition on the history and uses of ceramics. Visitors can learn more about the wonders of ceramics creation and manufacturing with several hands-on exhibits.
Today, Noritake is still a major name in fine tableware, but the company has taken its ceramic technology far beyond the dining room and made significant forays into many other industries, like airplane and automobile components, circuit boards and solar panels. In the Celabo showroom you can see just a few of the many applications that use either Noritake ceramics or the grinding, mixing, printing or firing technology that the company has developed.
Noritake's philosophy of "global sprint"-to spread its artistry and technology to all corners of the world-has surely come to fruition.